With the Rio Olympics looming next summer and Eurobasket 2015 next month, there's a good bit of international activity going on. That means a number of Spurs mixing it up with their national squads.
On the home front, Kawhi Leonard and new Spur LaMarcus Aldridge both took part in Team USA's minicamp as Coach K and Brian Colangelo begin looking to trim the current field of 34. The three-day camp finished up this week, and was mostly a chance for the players to show their commitment to compete next year.
Patty Mills was called up by the Australian national team following the loss of Exum, as the Boomers gear up for two games against New Zealand's Tall Blacks. Mills joins fellow NBAers Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova for the two showdowns, on Saturday, August 15th, and Monday, August 18th, which will decide which Antipodean side gets an automatic berth for the Rio games.
Meanwhile Tony Parker and Boris Diaw, as they often do, are representing Les Bleus - this time in Eurobasket 2015, which will run through September.
International ball continues to be somewhat of a lightning-rod topic between fans of the league and those who cheer passionately for their national teams (not that the two are mutually exclusive) - and even moreso after the injury to another NBA player this summer.
While he's not on Paul George's level, Dante Exum's ACL tear is a bummer, and the impact it'll have on his team's progress has been covered by several writers around the blogosphere, including Zach Lowe. In a piece that mostly focuses on how Utah will have to cope next year, Lowe shoehorns in a pithy summary of the bigger issue teams have with NBA players representing their home countries:
To their credit, the loudest critics of the FIBA arrangement, including Mark Cuban, have been transparent about their goals: They are concerned with money, not player safety. They get that players are going to risk injury playing in big international tournaments; they just want the NBA, and by extension the players, to get their share of the revenue those tournaments generate. This is why David Stern kicked around the notion of turning the Olympics into an under-23 event and shifting all the biggest stars into a World Cup that FIBA and the NBA would run, and profit from, together. It certainly wasn't about altruism or player health.
The Spurs, the closest thing the league's seen to a roundball model UN, have rarely taken a stance against their players taking part. Like most teams, they leave the decision up to their players who usually, unless injury or politics step in, decide to compete. Occasionally, such as with Manu last year and Marjanovic this year, the organization has stepped in and used its discretionary right to exclude them from competition.
Offseason basketball is a reality for most NBA players whether it means international competition, the Drew League or casual pickup games. Fingers crossed for good health and a quick return to form for all our guys heading into the 2015-16 season.